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Dr. Allan Mishra | Knee Pain Diagnosis



(MCL Sprain)

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Definition  Partial or complete tear of the medial collateral ligament

Model and X-ray of a Normal Knee
Details The MCL is a strong band of tissue on the inside part of the knee. This ligament helps prevent outward movement of the leg at the knee and is often injured in football and skiing.
Causes Any motion that forcefully moves the leg outward at the knee can cause an MCL sprain. Also, a hard blow to the outside part of the lower thigh can buckle a knee inward, injuring the MCL.

MCL injuries are sometimes suffered in combination with ACL, PCL or meniscus injuries.
Diagnosis MCL injuries typically result in pain--accompanied by mild to moderate swelling--along the inside part of the knee. Left untreated, MCL injuries may produce a sensation of instability, similar to a broken table leg, at the knee.

MCL sprains are classified by physical exam into three grades:

Grade I sprain: Ligament stretch, pain along ligament
Grade II sprain: Partial tear, mildly decreased stability
Grade III sprain: Complete tear, significantly abnormal stability

X-rays are done to rule out fractures. Occasionally, an MRI will be done to rule out other ligament or cartilage injuries.

Exam of MCL

MRIs of Normal and Torn Medial Collateral Ligaments
Treatment Nonoperative: Fortunately, most MCL injuries can be treated without surgery. Grade I and II injuries are treated with rest, use of a brace followed by a physical therapy program. Many grade III injuries may also be treated in this fashion.

MCL injuries that occur in combination with other ligament injuries may require surgical repair. Fortunately, the need for surgery for this type of injury is rare.

Keeping your leg muscles in excellent shape may help prevent some MCL sprains. Braces designed to help prevent MCL injuries in football players have not proven to be effective.